Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16
It’s important to be able to deliver an intelligent response to questions about our beliefs, especially in a hostile environment. It’s easier to lash out in a similar fashion and not with gentleness and respect. No one enjoys being made of fool of or being verbally attacked. It feels good to stand up for our convictions. If we cross the line over into animosity and disrespect, we lose.
Verse fifteen contains an often overlooked key that is applicable to more than just sharing your faith. “Give an answer to everyone who asks” (emphasis mine). Does this mean that unless queried we should remain silent? I don’t think so. There are times its appropriate to share our faith when not specifically asked to. Gentleness and respect go a long way to a help the listener hear what we say.
Not everyone who’ll challenge our faith does so with an open, truth-seeking heart. At times their attitudes can be accusatory and mocking. When this happens, here’s a tip to help you maintain a cool head under pressure, think of a butter churn.
Back in olden days housewives didn’t need Zumba dance, step aerobics or the AbDuctor. The butter churn provided a vigorous workout. Look for it to be the next new fad on late night TV shopping channels. In order to make butter, milk was poured into a confined space and subjected to violent blows with a churn. The result-sweet butter was extracted from raw milk. When under pressure we can allow our circumstances to bring out the best we have to offer. Anyone, ourselves included, can shoot off their mouth and wind up looking like a fool. Our position may be correct, accurate and even good but our delivery destroys credibility and negates the message. We’re obnoxious. An opportunity is squandered because our attitude stunk.
It’s not what we say, but what others think they hear that matters. A gentle answer paves the way for our words to be heard and understood. There isn’t scripture to support the use of the Bible as a hammer (or electric nail gun) to drive home our point. It’s more effective to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians ) than to beat the opposition to a pulp. To do this in a hostile environment is like being milk in a butter churn. The supernatural grace of God empowers us to stay calm, cool and collected when under fire.
If you want to really make a statement about your beliefs, use gentleness and respect, two hallmarks of Jesus’ ministry. Whatever the situation, let your words and actions demonstrate His love. You may not win the argument, but you will ultimately win the lost.